With the Super Bowl officially over, it’s time to start marking March 18th on your calendar, as that is the first day that teams can start signing free agents. Armed with a good amount of cap space, the Las Vegas Raiders figure to be major players in the free-agent market. A new stadium, a state with no income tax and an exciting young roster all work in the team’s favor as they try to attract big-name players.
There’s perhaps no bigger name hitting the open market than New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. He’s been with the Patriots for the entirety of his 20-year career, but it’s starting to look like a change could be made. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Sunday that the Raiders are planning to go after him should New England let him walk.
Until Brady strikes a deal with some team, there’s going to be a lot of speculation about where he might end up. Sheil Kapadia of The Atheltic released some bold predictions for the offseason, and while he believes that Brady ultimately stays with the Patriots, if he goes anywhere else, it’s going to be Las Vegas:
The Raiders have an offensive line that produced the sixth-lowest sack rate last year. They’ve got a stud running back who can make plays in the passing game in Josh Jacobs and a dynamic tight end in Darren Waller. Hunter Renfrow had a promising rookie season in the slot. And the Raiders have the resources to add a dynamic wide receiver to pair with Tyrell Williams on the outside. Jon Gruden has an affinity for veteran quarterbacks and has said nothing to indicate he’s fully committed to Derek Carr going forward. Heading to Las Vegas (no state income tax!) could end up being an appealing option to Brady. Is the scenario I laid out likely? No. But is it possible? I think so.
This analysis from Kapadia is probably the most spot-on take about Brady’s thought process yet. There’s limited upside to him joining the Raiders outside of monetary gain. There’s no doubt that they’re an up-and-coming team with a lot of potential, but the Patriots are obviously closer to Super Bowl contention. The most likely outcome is that Brady is leveraging his free-agent status to get a better contract from New England.
Raiders to Trade for Stefon Diggs?
If the Raiders adding Brady seemed like a bold prediction, Kapadia one-upped himself and put out a potential scenario where the team makes a trade for Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
The only scenario in which Brady leaves is if he finds a better situation elsewhere. That means significantly better weapons than he had with the Patriots in 2019. Adding Diggs to the names mentioned above would give the Raiders an impressive supporting cast around Brady. Would Mike Mayock be hesitant to part with draft capital after what happened with Antonio Brown last year? Yes. But this would be a different scenario. Diggs is 26 and has a reasonable contract through 2023. Even if things don’t work out with Brady, he’d still be an asset for the next Raiders quarterback.
It was widely reported towards the middle of the 2019 season that Diggs was aiming to get traded out of Minnesota. That mostly had to do with the lack of targets he was receiving as the offense was struggling at certain points. However, the Vikings offense and Diggs turned things around, and he finished with a career-best 1,130 receiving yards. That’s his second straight season with over 1,000 yards, and he’s cemented himself as one of the better wide receivers in the NFL.
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Diggs With a First Rounder
Though he has been productive, Diggs hasn’t been among the best wide receivers in the NFL. The Vikings are unlikely to give him up for anything less than a first-round pick. While we know Diggs is a good wide receiver, there’s a lot of excitement around drafting one. Diggs probably isn’t a top-10 wideout in the NFL and probably won’t turn into one. However, CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs could be superstars. That said, the history of the NFL Draft is littered with high-profile wide receiver busts, and Mike Mayock Knows that.
If the Raiders are feeling any inkling of doubt about the top wide receivers in the 2020 NFL Draft, they should really consider giving up a first-round pick for Diggs.